Last week a guy called and first told me how Mickey (the pharmacy manager) can ALWAYS tell him what his med will cost ahead of time. He wanted to know the price of a tube of Tretinoin creme.
I asked for the strength.
“I don’t know. 20 grams.”
"Ok. What’s the strength?" I ask.
“I don’t know. We’ve known Mickey for years. We’ve been going there for years and Mickey always gets us the best price? Is he there?”
"No. He’s off every Wednesday." (If they know Mickey so well why don’t they know he’s off every Wednesday?)
"It comes in different strengths. What’s the strength on the Rx?" I ask. The guy gets agitated and asks again when Mickey will be there, then asks if I can give him any idea what it will cost.
I ask again: "What’s the strength of the medication?"
"That’s the volume to dispense. I got that. I need to know the strength. It comes in different strengths."
“I don’t know. What does that mean?”
The thought that these people VOTE and have children runs through my mind.
I tell him the different strengths that it comes in and tell him that refers to the potency of the drug.
“Just try the strength in the middle!" he blurts at me in exasperation.
"When will Mickey be back? He can always tell me what stuff costs.” (I think this is the THIRD time he's mentioned that.)
I pull up our discount card website and put in the name of the drug, 20 grams, and select the middle strength. This takes a couple of minutes during which the guy starts getting impatient. I guess I was supposed to know this off the top of my head. He mumbles something else about Mickey when I tell him the price on a discount. He asks if that’s the best price.
I try to tell him that without knowing the exact quantity (which I think he just picked out of thin air) or strength that I can’t tell him the exact price but I tell him what’s on our screen with the information he's told me. I also tell him to bring in the script and then I can get him an exact price.
Pleasantries are exchanged and he hangs up.
The next day during my overlap with Mickey...
One tech is at lunch. The other is munching in the back, low blood sugar and all. I’m at the register. The phone rings. I only hear Mickey’s side of the conversation:
“What’s the strength?” Mickey asks.
“Yes that’s the quantity. I need to know the strength,” Mickey emphasizes.
“No, I have no way of knowing the price without knowing the quantity and strength of the creme.”
Déjà vu in full effect now. I just had this conversation...
“Twenty grams is how much to dispense. Strength is the potency of the creme. Some are stronger than others,” I hear Mickey say.
Mickey laughs. “Well bring in that script and I can give you the exact price.”
Mickey hangs up, shaking his head... not even knowing the whole story.